Homosexuals In Military


Homosexuals In Military Essay, Research Paper

Homosexuals have been excluded from our society since our country’s beginning,

giving them no equal protection underneath the large branch of the law. The

Emancipation Proclamation gave freedom to blacks from slavery in the 1800’s and

women were given the freedoms reserved for males in the early 1900’s with the

women’s suffrage movement. But everyone still knows the underlying feeling of

nation in dealing with minorities and women, one of contempt and disgust. Hate

crimes are still perpetrated to this day in this country, and most are

unpublicized and "swept underneath the rug." The general public is

just now dealing with the struggle of Homosexuals to gain rights in America,

although this persecution is subtle, quiet and rarely ever seen to the naked eye

or the general public. The big question today in Homosexuals rights struggles

are dealing with the right to be a part of our country’s Military Forces. At the

forefront of the struggle to gain access to the military has been Female’s who

have tried to gain access to "All Men" facilities and have been

pressured out by other cadets. This small group of women have fought hard, and

pressured the Government to change regulations dealing with the inclusion of all

people, whether female or male, and giving them all the same opportunities they

deserve. The Homosexual struggle with our Nation’s Armed Forces has been

acquiring damage and swift blows for over 60 years now, and now they too are

beginning to fight back. With the public knowledge of "initiation

rights" into many elite groups of the military, the general public is

beginning to realize how exclusive the military can be. One cadet said after

"hell week" in the Marines, "It was almost like joining a

fraternity, but the punishments were 1000 times worse than ever imagined, and

the Administration did not pretend to turn there back, they were instrumental in

the brutality." The intense pressure of "hell week" in the

Marines drove a few to wounding themselves, go AWOL, and a few even took there

own life. People who are not "meant to be" in the Military are usually

weeded out during these "initiations" and forced either to persevere

or be discharged dishonorably. The military in the United States has become an

elite society, a society where only few survive. In a survey taken in 1990, the

United States population on a whole is believed to consist of 13-15%

Homosexuals. This figure is believed to have a margin of error on the upward

swing due to the fact that most homosexuals are still "afraid" of

their sexuality and the social taboos it carries along with it. With so many

Homosexuals in the United States, how can the military prove its exclusion

policy against Homosexuals correct and moral? Through the "long standing

tradition and policy," says one Admiral of the U.S. Navy. But is it fair or

correct? That is the question posed on Capitol Hill even today, as politicians

battle through a virtual minefield of tradition and equal rights. Historically,

support for one’s military was a way to show one’s patriotism, if not a

pre-requisite for being patriotic at all. Society has given the military a great

deal of latitude in running its own affairs, principally due to society’s

acknowledgment that the military needs such space in order to run effectively.

The military, in turn, has adopted policies which, for the most part, have lead

to very successful military ventures, which served to continually renew

society’s faith in the military. Recently, however, that support has been

fading. The Vietnam War represented both a cause of diminishing support for the

military by society as well a problem. The Vietnam War occurred during a period

of large-scale civil disobedience, as well as a time where peace was more

popular than war. Since the effectiveness of the military depends a great deal

upon society’s support, when society’s support dropped out of the war effort,

the war effort in turn suffered. The ultimate defeat of the United States in the

Vietnam War effort only lead to less faith in the military’s ability. This set

the stage for society becoming more involved in how the military was run. The

ban on homosexuals serving in the military, was originally instituted in 1942.

Though some of the reasons that were used to justify it at the time have been

debunked since-that homosexual service members in sensitive positions could be

blackmailed, for instance ("Gays and the Military" 54)-the policy was

largely an extension of the military’s long-standing policy against homosexual

acts. At the time, the prevailing attitude was that homosexuality was a

medical/psychiatric condition, and thus the military sought to align itself with

this school of thought. Rather than just continuing to punish service members

for individual acts of sodomy, the military took what was thought to be a kinder

position-excluding those people who were inclined to commit such acts in the

first place, thus avoiding stiffer penalties (including prison sentences) for

actually committing them. As society and the military came to be more

enlightened about the nature of homosexuality, a redefinition of the policy

became necessary. In 1982, the policy was redefined to state that "a

homosexual (or a lesbian) in the armed forces seriously impairs the ability of

the military services to maintain discipline, good order and morale.’"

Essentially, it was reasoned that homosexuality and military service were

incompatible, and thus homosexuals should be excluded from the military. Only in

1994 was this policy changed, and then only the exclusion of homosexuals-acts of

homosexuality or overt acknowledgment of one’s homosexuality are still forbidden

in the military. But we must ask ourselves, why was this ban upheld for so long?

The primary reason that the military upheld its ban against gay service members

was that it was necessary for the military to provide "cohesiveness."

Society bent to accommodate homosexuality. The military, however, cannot bend if

it is to effectively carry out its duties. The realities of military life

include working closely while on duty, but the true intimacies "are to be

traced to less bellicose surroundings-to the barracks, the orderly room, the

mess hall. If indeed the military can lay claim to any sense of `organic unity,’

it will be found in the intimacy of platoon and company life." The military

demands an extreme amount of cohesiveness, and this is very much reinforced in

barracks life. You must sleep with, eat with, and share facilities with your

fellow platoon members. Life in the barracks is extremely intimate. Men must

share rooms together, and showers are public also. Having homosexuals be part of

this structure violates this cohesiveness. Men and women are kept in separate

barracks much for the same reasons. However, the true purpose behind barring gay

service members is how the individuals who are part of the military feel about

them. Members of the military are more conservatively minded people, but,

moreover, they are overwhelmingly opposed to having homosexuals among their

ranks. To then force these individuals to serve with gays only undermines the

morale of the military. And when morale is undermined, the effectiveness of the

military drops as well. The leadership of the military has always been

persistent in its position-"Up and down the chain of command, you’ll find

the military leadership favors the ban.". And, as one navy lieutenant put

it: "The military is a life-and-death business, not an equal opportunity

employer." No one is doubting that gays have served in the military. Ever

since Baron Frederich von Steuben (a renowned Prussian military-mind and known

homosexual) served as a Major General in the Continental Army, there have been

homosexuals serving in the military. Even today there exists a Gay American

Legion post in San Francisco. However, the general consensus is that allowing

them in the service represents a rubber-stamping of their existence rather than

a concerted effort to discourage it. Though the homosexual lobby often cites the

fact that gays have always served in the military as a justification for lifting

the ban, this sort of reasoning is wrong. There are many other types of behavior

that the military has been unable to completely eradicate, such as discharge and

use of illegal substances. No one would ever deny that these things happen in

the military. But the point is that if they were made legal, there would be more

instances of them. To use the lack of perfect implementation as a pretext for

legalization is equally absurd in the civilian world: Do we legalize criminal

behavior on the grounds that "people have always done it"? Another

parallel that is frequently drawn with gays in the military is that of the

situation of women in the military. Though largely a male

institution-"Symbolically, the military represents masculinity more than

any institution other than professional sports?-women have been a part of the

military since World War II and the women’s support units have been abolished

since 1978.But, like that of race to homosexuality, the comparison is invalid.

Women are not permitted in combat units -an exclusion that for homosexuals would

be hard to implement, at best. They also have separate barracks and facilities,

which would be equally as unpractical to homosexuals. If the admission of

homosexuals into the military causes adverse effects on the morale of the

soldiers, then the debate should be re-opened there. The military’s function is

to protect democracy. The sacrifices associated with military service may be

very great-up to giving up one’s life. Excluding homosexuals from military

service seems petty, everyone should be allowed to defend their country.

Moreover, the politicizing of such issues undermines the military’s faith in the

civilian leadership that guides it. The military is quickly loosing its

prestige, its traditional conservative values, and that is a good thing for most

Americans. Reinstating the ban would be a gesture of utter and sheer

digustedness in our military. Having homosexuals in the military is a matter of

military effectiveness-not of the homosexuals’ ability to perform military

duties, but of the morale of the military as a whole. And, in the military, it

is always the good of the whole which must be considered before the good of the

individual. The ending of the Cold War and the re-definition of the military’s

mission does not mean that we should make the military less effective. If a

policy in regards to the military does not improve its effectiveness, then it

should not be implemented. But when the implementation means giving a chance to

few who would like to serve out great nation, than it should be considered


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